Oceanside’s wrestling team is eyeing a presence on the county finals podium this weekend.
A young Sailors squad qualified six for the Nassau County individual championships during a qualifier match at Massapequa High School last Saturday. Seventh-year Oceanside coach Julio Flores now sees potential for multiple All-County accolades on the championship stage at Farmingdale State College.
“It is all going to come down to how well we perform on Saturday, said Flores of the first day of the county finals that decides who vie for the top placements. “It is about who is going to give 110 percent.”
Seniors Jared Gonzalez and Joiker Martinez had the strongest Oceanside showings at qualifiers with second place finishes in the heavyweight and 195-pound divisions, respectively. Gonzalez, who was ranked fourth in the latest Long Island Wrestling Association county rankings, won a 4-3 overtime decision against East Meadow’s Kevin Moreno in the semifinals before falling to Sam Khodaprest of Massapequa in the finals, 5-2. Martinez advanced to the finals with a 10-4 semifinal win against Massapequa’s Jacob Menichini.
Oceanside wrestlers who qualified with fourth-place finishes included juniors Luke Strianese (106) and Charlie Leventhal (138) along with senior Dan Monge (152.) Leventhal just missed out on a chance to compete for a qualifying title when he dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to Massapequa’s Will Piatti 5-4 in the semis.
Sophomore Matt Maldonado, rose to the occasion at qualifiers with a fifth place finish at 285 after serving as a backup at heavyweight throughout the season. He won defeated Hewlett’s Muez Hameed in the fifth place finals, 4-0.
“We were very proud of how he responded,” Flores said of Maldonado. “It was very impressive.”
Junior Justin Marine, the fourth-ranked 145-pound wrestler in the county, just missed earning a spot in the county championships after grappling with injuries late in the season. Marine, who was forced to spend nearly a week in the hospital following appendicitis surgery last month, won his first bout against Port Washington’s Daron Proctor and then was eliminated in the next round by Joe DeNicola of East Meadow.
The six Oceanside qualifiers will next hit the mat on Saturday morning in the first round of the county championships scheduled for 9:30 am. at Farmingdale State’s Lynch Sports Center. The championship finals are scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m.
Oceanside has progressed throughout winter and finished the dual meet season at 6-7. Flores said the improvements made dividends at qualifiers with wrestlers able to dig down when berths to the county championships were on the line.
“We’re a young team and they stepped up when they needed to,” Flores said. “We definitely have made good strides this season.”
Flores said team chemistry has played an integral role in the individual accolades Oceanside is striving for. He said the constant support provided by teammates in practice and in matches has positioned them to be on the cusp of sending wrestlers to the county championship podium dedicated to those who place in the top six.
“They are always looking to help each other out,” Flores said. “They are amazing.”